Since the Japanese takeover of Zippel GmbH by Sugino in 2014, there have been noticeable changes – and not just at management level. Employee numbers are up by 50%, service employees are now also available worldwide, and the Neutraubling site has been able to boost its European profile to a global scale together with the Japanese parent company. This is also attributable in no small measure to the massive expansion in its product range.
In an interview, CEO Akira Nishiyama (AN) and Vice President of Operations Roman Siluk-Giusiano (RSG) highlight the most significant changes to take place at the company.
What has changed at Zippel since the merger with the Japanese company Sugino?
The corporate set-up has changed fundamentally. We now have a large marketing and service network, aimed at helping to put customer needs at the heart of what we do.
RSG: In the past, different managers and corporate cultures clashed, resulting in permanent deadlock at the company. Direction and vision were lacking. There were issues with order processing and deliveries. As a result, the customer promise was broken.
Departments had lost their customer focus and were not working together. The German sales and service network suffered as a result, and systems needed to be reworked – which was time-consuming and expensive.
In Sugino, not only have we acquired a strong financial partner, but we have also benefited from the transfer of additional technical know-how. Specialists from Japan were available to improve production processes. Investments were made in infrastructure. That way, all problems could be addressed from the bottom up.
What are the benefits for your customers?
The takeover by Sugino has created a company which has become a full provider for industrial cleaning. Low-pressure and high-pressure cleaning solutions are now available. In addition, we have boosted our recruitment of qualified employees and are focusing on better project management and quick decision-making pathways.
The customer is now more strongly at the heart of everything we do. In addition, there is Germany-wide service coverage and practically world-wide coverage via Sugino and the distributor network.
How are customer requirements set to develop in your segment?
The trend is heading towards electric vehicles, surface treatments, energy efficiency and low costs of disposal.
The requirements are constantly growing – both for cleanliness and in terms of compliance with environmental regulations and operating energy-efficient plants.
How do you sum up FY 2018?
In 2018, the company underwent a fundamental change. We succeeded in improving our corporate culture and winning back customer confidence.
The past 12 months were characterised by change/restructuring in order to put the customer at the heart of what we do and to rectify the mistakes and sins of the past. We have made sizeable investments in structures and employees. There were changes in customer requirements – away from the combustion engine and towards electric vehicle components.
Enquiries rose, and our operating position improved.
What are the long-term goals for the future?
Long-term, we want to expand our marketing and service network, invest in employee development and be bolder in our innovation, while continuing to ensure greater customer satisfaction. The production sites are being expanded and our focus is on profitable growth, so that we become a close partner to our customers and remain a full solutions provider.
We want to be the provider with the best solutions in the industrial parts cleaning sector in future. We see solving problems as our duty.
Zippel GmbH has undergone a total renewal and is constantly improving.
What does the merger mean for the Zippel and Sugino product range? To what extent is the product range being supplemented?
Zippel is the expert for low-pressure systems, Sugino the expert in high-pressure systems. With the two processes, we can now cover all product areas. Zippel can benefit from Sugino’s world-wide sales and service network and boost its sales figures in America and China.
The theme of sustainability has become a globally important issue. How sustainable is your company?
All Zippel units work with closed and isolated circulation systems. Wastewater is not channelled out of the machines but is filtered and recycled. That way, we reduce our consumption of water, chemicals and energy. In addition, contaminants can be filtered out in concentrated form. We have long been developing optimised systems for filtration, exhaust air cleaning and wastewater treatment.
Cleaning engines in the automotive sector is set to shift to automotive parts and electric engines in the long term. Zippel will continue to follow the trend in the automotive industry and further develop the themes of environmental awareness and sustainability, treating these as a key aspect of our work. We are acquiring new fields of industry, such as the rail industry and aerospace technology.
In saying that, we should not forget that Zippel originally started by cleaning beer mugs. Even today, industrial dishwashing machines are still in great demand and feature in our product range!
If you consider the overall Zippel product range, our strength clearly lies in being able to adapt our products to market developments.